Just when I'm convinced there's little hope for New Jersey bars and restaurants, a gem like River of Beer falls into my lap from the internet.
As usual, our usual Sunday morning routine here at t:e headquarters involved the missus googling for restaurants that look interesting, good, and most of all, don't serve some sort of crappy "brunch" menu. F&cking pancakes and waffles and syrup and eggs, people. What, are you 12!??!?!? We weren't coming up with much, until:
missus: "Have you ever heard of a place called River of Beer?"
me: "No. Sounds awful. Where is it." (I'm a real pleasure in the morning)
me: "That sounds far. And awful. I have no idea where that is and I know everything."
Some quick googling led me to the realization that Bloomingdale is pretty damned close to Bergen County. A review of the menu led us to the thought that this is a gastro-pub type of situation, serving a bunch of craft beers, and that they put some thought into their food and menu. THAT, is exactly what I want to see. Off we went, to this strange land called "Bloomingdale."
River of Beer is a good-looking bar, set in an old two-story building. There's a bar on each floor, an outside seating area with picnic tables and a fire pit, and apparently just beyond that there's seating down by the river. I felt like I was on vacation, visiting a far-away place.
With about 18 beers on tap, and more in bottles/cans, there's no shortage of options. They also put some thought into a small cocktail list, and run special cocktails throughout the year.
Bloody Marys were 5 bucks a pop on this particular afternoon. We didn't indulge, but many others were. They looked pretty super, and were made with care and consideration.
We started off with an order of 6 wings ($6). Rather than go with the usual Buffalo style, we figured we'd see what the kitchen can do with something non-traditional. We ordered the rosemary/pepper/lemon wings. These things were addictive (in no small part due to the salt and fat). I suspect they're using fresh lemon zest to coat these things, and I'm going to steal that idea.
A day earlier, we were at another bar, and spied a hot roast beef sandwich with provolone and au jus on the menu, which we ordered. Turned out they were out of that item that day. So when we saw a similar sandwich on the menu at River of Beer, we knew it had to be done.
Grilled french bread, loaded with sliced roast beef and provolone, served with some excellent fresh-cut fries and a bowl of hot jus. That certainly hit the spot.
The burger was also fantastic. Grass-fed/grain-finished beef on an appropriately sized bun. Juicy, and cooked to m/r as ordered. I couldn't stop eating the thing. The sliced pickles, also, were excellent.
River of Beer is a cozy, comfortable place with some solid food and excellent beer selection. The is staff friendly and engaged. Well worth a visit to the county known as "Passaic" from other far-away counties.
River of Beer : 133 Main Street : Bloomingdale, NJ : 973.750.1820